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Viewing Blog: wordswimmer, Most Recent at Top
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Bruce Black searches for words and stories on Florida's west coast, only a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico.** A writer, editor of children's books, and writing instructor, his stories for children have appeared in Cricket and Cobblestone magazines.** You can contact him at wordswimmer@hotmail.com.
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1. The Only Thing That Matters

I sent off another story yesterday. Now I’m wondering if I sent it to the right place. It’s how the self-doubt starts. In a few weeks, if I don’t receive a response, the question will shift in a subtle way. It will become something very different. It will turn into “Was it ready to send out?" And then “Did I need to do more work on it?” And all of a sudden, like a trap door dropping

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2. Ready. Set. Go!

Twenty minutes each morning—whether I’m ready to write or not, whether I’m sleepy or awake, whether my back aches or my fingers hurt—I write. Fast. Nonstop. For twenty minutes. It’s like digging fast. Just digging. Taking a shovel. Putting it into the earth. Lifting soil. Repeat. Again and again. Twenty minutes. Each day. There’s something about getting the hand in motion, about the

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3. Coming Up Empty-Handed

It took all day to write something that I didn’t even know I wanted to write. I sat at my desk for hours trying to think of something to write and at the end of the morning I left an unmarked sheet of paper on my desk, the same blank sheet that I'd started with when I sat down earlier. It was like diving and returning to the surface empty-handed. I hadn’t found any pearls on the sea

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4. Swimming in the Dark

For years I’ve held an image in my head of a plant growing toward the light as a way of understanding the writing process. It was an image that a beloved writing teacher shared with me years ago, and the image of my work growing toward the light--drawn to the light--helped me through some dark passages in my life as I tried to sort out which direction to follow in terms of what I wanted to

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5. Two steps forward, one step back

Sometimes writing can feel as if I’m making headway one day, only to find myself retreating the next. Two steps forward, one step back. It’s as if I’m swimming effortlessly through the water and then unexpectedly hit a strong current, and everything changes. My pace slows, my arms feel fatigued, my legs weaken, and I fear sinking to the bottom. And then, just as suddenly, the

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6. Follow Your Bliss

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7. Second-Guessing Yourself (or How Can You Really Trust Your Intuition?)

After thinking about a story for years and trying to write it for more years than I care to count, I had a break through a few months ago and managed to get the words of the story down on paper. Every afternoon I sat down to type out the next chapter, and the next, and received a gift, a miracle, of sorts, as page after page began to appear on the screen.  Over the course of a few months

0 Comments on Second-Guessing Yourself (or How Can You Really Trust Your Intuition?) as of 4/12/2015 11:32:00 AM
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8. Early Morning Reflections

Excerpts from a recent journal entry: Up early -- 5:45 am. Still groggy from sleep. Yesterday I started typing the historical fiction novel that I've spent the past month writing by hand. Just typing, no edits. Re-reading the story. That's all. As I write this morning, I ask what's the purpose of this journal keeping? Is it a record of what I do? A kind of superficial summary of my life--did

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9. Empty Mind

"Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it."--Dee Hock "Once you are empty then there is no barrier for the divine to enter in you." - Osho It may sound like a contradiction to try to empty your mind when you write. After all, if your mind is “empty,” how can you possibly find the words and images you need to set down on paper? But I’d like to

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10. Writing Happens Like This

Writing happens like this: You never know what will appear when you sit down to write. You only know you are a little scared that nothing will happen—no words, no ideas, no thoughts will come—and you'll be left staring at a blank page. So, you sit and wait for something that isn’t yet on the page. And when you find the courage to take that leap of faith and start writing, words do

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11. The Write Stuff

There’s this belief among writers that hidden inside us is all the stuff we need to write. Maybe we're born with this stuff, or maybe we get it from our teachers or parents, or by reading the work of other writers, but we have it and only have to dig deep enough to find it. Of course, we still need to learn how to write. We still need to read lots of books and write lots of words. 

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12. Go, Write!

In the beginning, the page is blank--just blue lines and white spaces. It’s like looking into a mirror. The page serves as the release mechanism, the trigger, the catalyst for thought. But thought itself doesn’t take place on the page. You may look at the lines and the spaces between the lines, but what you see is the image in your head, the image that is not yet on the page. A

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13. Beacon of Light, 2014

Most likely you’ve near heard of the writer who I’ve selected as the Beacon of Light for 2014, but he has served as my inspiration this past year, illuminating the shoals of self-doubt and guiding me past the fears and uncertainties that often accompany the writing process. The writer’s name is Chuck Entwistle, a friend of mine from our days as grad students in the MFA program at Vermont

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14. Cultivate Patience

Writing’s not a career for the faint-hearted or those seeking instant gratification. So much of a writer’s life is spent waiting—waiting for words to come, stories to appear, the next critique group to meet, the response to a manuscript or contract from an editor or agent. Waiting can transform your writing life into a daunting succession of days filled with agony, self-doubt, and

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15. Savor the Light

It’s that time of year when the light changes.  Even in Florida, where writers are accustomed to the sun shining brightly all year long, the days are growing shorter. Over the next few months, we'll watch as the light turns from highly burnished gold to a subtle shade of bronze, and we'll gaze in wonder as this honey-colored light seems to melt from the sky. In the weeks ahead, as

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16. Inside, Outside

In order to write, I need to go inside. Not literally inside a room or a building but inside myself. I spend weeks, months, and often years on a project learning how to do this, how to get past my outer self and step into the inner imaginary world that I'm trying to create. It doesn't happen automatically. Even after years of writing, this process takes time and thought, and the

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17. Each Story Begins With a Choice

Every time we sit down to write, we must make a choice. Do we play it safe or do we take a risk? Do we create a story that lets us feel safe and grounded, a story that removes danger (and threats of danger) from our world? Or do we create a story that forces us to climb a high wire and take risks, to reach into the dark box of our hidden (and not-so-hidden) fears and confront them?

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18. Where’s the tension?

Without tension, it’s almost impossible to hold a reader’s attention and keep her turning the pages of your story. And yet many of us, despite knowing this (that tension is a key ingredient in sustaining a reader’s attention), produce stories that lack tension. Why is it, I wonder, that it’s so hard to create a story with tension? Tension, as a noun, is defined as “the state of being

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19. My Writing Process Blog Tour

One of my favorite writers and illustrators, Michelle Edwards, was kind enough to invite me to join the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Michelle has written and illustrated numerous books for children, including the National Jewish Book Award winner, Chicken Man. If you enjoy knitting, you might like to pick up her book on knitting for adults, A Knitter's Home Companion, an illustrated collection

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20. Are You A Writer?

Can you accept imperfection? Can you accept that you'll need to revise again and again (and still again), that the word you're looking for may not appear until the twentieth or thirtieth draft?  Can you accept that one day your writing will flow like wine and the next day the well may run dry and all you can do is sit at your desk and stare for hours at an empty screen? Can you accept that

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21. The Path to the Sea

Here is the path that we’ll take to the sea. It’s the beginning of our journey. We don’t know where the path will lead us. (We have no maps, no clues.) All we can do is walk toward the clouds ahead and hope we’ll find the sea. The clouds offer a glimmer of hope, a way to go. And we head toward them  It’s a hunch, an intuitive feeling. And we follow that feeling

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22. Stuck in the Muck

It happens when you least expect it. You take a turn down a road that looks promising and before you realize what’s happening the tires sink into the muck and you can’t back out. Or you are swimming in clear water and the next thing you know there are weeds tangled around your arms and legs and you are sinking into the mud. Your brain is stuck, your pen is frozen. Words have vanished;

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23. Diving into each moment

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24. Coming to Terms With Yourself

When Harper Lee was asked what advice she’d give a young writer, she wrote: “Well, the first advice I would give is this: hope for the best and expect nothing. Then you won’t be disappointed.” And she went on to say: “You must come to terms with yourself about writing. You must not write “for” something, you must not write with definite hopes of reward. People who write for reward by way of

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25. The Power of the Sea

We would stand on the beach at Montauk, a boy and his father, looking out past the easternmost point on Long Island, and I'd strain to hear my father’s words as the ocean waves broke in front of us, crashing and thundering to reveal their power. “Never turn your back on the ocean,” my father would warn me. “The riptides are treacherous.” Some of the waves were five and six feet tall, and my

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